Mayor Jerry Sanders announced today that Tracy Jarman, a 22-year veteran of San Diego’s Fire-Rescue Department, has been nominated to be the city’s new fire chief. Jarman is the first woman to ever take the position in San Diego and the second to be in charge in major metropolitan area.
“This is one of the proudest moments of my career,” Jarman said. “We have a lot of work to do but it’s about caring for the public and about customer service.”
Jarman began her career as a recruit and has worked as a firefighter, captain, a battalion chief, a deputy chief and assistant chief. The mayor and other city officials said Jarman’s extensive experience within the department makes her “superbly qualified” for the job. Sanders said he encouraged Jarman to make her own mark in the department.
“You’re the chief now, it’s your organization, put your own imprint on the organization,” Sanders said on what he told Jarman. “Don’t look at what was there before you, you can respect the person before you, but it’s your organization now.”
Jarman follows former chief Jeff Bowman, who resigned earlier this month after openly criticizing the department’s lack of resources. Jarman must now wrestle with those same fiscal constraints that have plagued her predecessor.
Asked about Bowman’s assessments of the underfunded and understaffed department, Jarman said that it will take some time to make changes.
“I think they were accurate,” she said. “But I think the challenge in this fiscal time is that we need to focus on doing what we can.”
Sanders has asked Jarman to come up with a financial plan in six months that will make use of the $160 million dollars committed the department. Other city officials reiterated that Jarman’s knowledge of the department will be essential in finding solutions. Jarman’s nomination is slated for confirmation before the City Council on Monday.
“This adds a level of stability to the department,” Councilwoman Toni Atkins said about the nomination. “It’s important that we have someone that knows our system, knows our city, knows our constraints and in fact, has been working on those same issues.”
– MARNETTE FEDERIS